From the Publisher
July 4, 2014
The human factor is key to business success. It is also crucial in science. This is best illustrated by the story of Prof. Henryk Skarżyński, founder and director of the World Hearing Center in Kajetany near Warsaw. This unique facility, founded in 2012, is the main unit of the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing, a leading Polish research institute and a highly specialized hospital providing comprehensive care for patients suffering from hearing, balance, speech and sinus problems. Kajetany is where the world’s largest number of operations to improve or restore hearing has been performed for years.
Prof. Skarżyński is the man who performed Poland’s first cochlear implant operation on a completely deaf patient in 1992. Since then the institute has turned on the sound or turned up the volume for thousands of people who are either congenitally deaf or who have lost all or part of their hearing and for whom traditional hearing aids have proven ineffective. Cochlear implants are surgically implanted electronic devices that take over the function of damaged sensory cells in the inner ear.
I met Prof. Skarżyński 25 years ago. He was already a talented doctor specializing in the restoration of hearing, especially when it came to child patients. He had all the qualities needed to be an outstanding achiever. Hardworking and thirsty for knowledge, he was forever seeking—and creating—new solutions. Dedicated to his research and professional endeavors, he was a careful planner who dreamed of repairing the world. Despite setting himself grand goals, he was free of arrogance and megalomania—focusing on his patients rather than on himself and his personal career. He was determined and thorough. During social events that we both attended, I remember the professor answering my questions, talking about his dreams, plans and objectives. On each occasion, he briefed me on how he had climbed successive rungs of a ladder that he built in his imagination. He was continuously climbing this ladder.
When I first visited Kajetany, where Prof. Skarżyński opened the World Hearing Center, the only facility of its kind anywhere in the world, I was flabbergasted. I found myself in something resembling a scientific paradise—a treasure-trove of expertise and ultramodern equipment. I knew that dreams can come true, but it was only there that I realized that reality can actually surpass dreams.